Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/faq/social-stayhidden.html
Consider what the word "Vampire" means to most people, especially those with a steady "diet" of Hollywood movies and popular vampire fiction. It means a human (or human-like) person who takes the blood/vitality/life-force/etc. of other people to feed themselves. Because they don't understand why an apparently "normal" looking person would need to (much less want to) drink blood, and for no apparent medical reason, it scares them. It's too far outside the realm of most mundanes. After the panic wears off, the definition hasn't changed, but now they think....is this person psychotic? A possible homicidal maniac? Dangerous to their fellow coworkers and people on the street? Thoughts like this doesn't exactly put a person at ease, especially if they have any idea what psi abilities a vampire can have. :) Many people new to the vampire community usually ask at one point or another why many of us insist on staying in hiding. "Why not just explain it to people?" they ask, "Surely they would understand, once you explain it to them!"
"But why can't you just buy a town and have everyone move there?" some ask. People think ONE vampire in a place is scary enough. Can you imagine how bad the reaction will be to knowing there's hundreds, possibly thousands, all in one place? Not to mention the self-styled "hunters" and "slayers" who will look at it as a prime target. *shudder*
To put it in perspective, millions of people kill each other over differences in skin color and religion every day. They're fighting and dying over a CONCEPT. A belief. Hell, people get killed over something as intangible and unprovable as whether or not aliens exist in the universe.
If people are so willing to kill each other over differences in who they pray to, or the color of their skin, they are *definitely* NOT ready for us!
Personally, I can't wait for the time when humanity stops seeing things in terms of "male or female" and "gay vs. straight" and similar divisions, and starts seeing everyone as just "people" - when only a person's capabilities matter, not what they do or who they do it with in their spare time. Sadly, I don't expect to see society reach that level of sensibility in my lifetime. *wistful sigh*
Coming "out of the coffin" depends on many things, mainly to do with a person's risk level by doing so.
Will they risk losing their career?
Will they risk losing their family? (and do they want to take that chance?)
Will they risk losing their children? (Pagans/Wiccans run the risk of losing their children in a court case simply because of religious prejudice...add vampirism into the mix, and it's even worse!)
"I am a vampire" are not words that can EVER be un-said.
Why don't they understand?
It is easier to fear and/or hate than it is to understand, or at least to accept the existence of, that which is different from their normal experiences. Most people find the subject uncomfortable, if not unnerving or disgusting, and will avoid it if possible, and condem it when they can't.
But people believe in miracles
Most of those people's religions are the type that consider vampires to be evil, which is worse than "simply" being mentally ill. No, it doesn't make sense. Yes, we have to deal with that double-standard anyway.
But all you have to do is explain it
Sadly, the truth is that most of the time they STILL won't understand, even if you do explain. Parents want to send their hapless children off to get psychiatric counseling or put them on medication. Employers suddenly decide that you're too much of a freak to keep on staff, or too freaky to consider hiring if you've just admitted this in an interview. Coworkers suddenly develop excuses for not wanting to chat or even be in the same room with you, and start spreading ugly rumors behind your back. (Hell, that can happen anyway, but being known as a vampire adds a LOT of fuel to the office politics fire.)
Why don't you feel they're ready to know?
In the USA presidential election of 2004, a total of eleven (11!) states had initiatives on the ballot to ban gay marriage, and in some cases, strip domestic partnerships - not just gay/lesbian, but male/female domestic partners as well - of partner rights, such as the ability to share medical plans, visit their partner in the hospital, have one partner's estate passing to the other on their death, and more. Not just "no gay marriage" but a LOT more, if anyone had bothered to read the fine print.
All eleven states approved the ban.
If the US can't even give gays, who are obviously human, basic human rights, especially ones enjoyed by male/female marriages, what do you think they're doing to do with people like us, who consider ourselves something most people - who aren't familiar with the concept - believe "inhuman"?
Think about that.